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In my first serious long-term relationship, my ex hated three things that I loved—salmon, spicy food, and runny egg yolks.


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I began to wonder whether it was possible to apply the same methods to my own relationship. But it would be more honest to admit it was also because I missed my boyfriend. After spending three years at college with him, I had left to study for a year at Oxford; this was my equivalent of flipping through photo albums. But what data to use?

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Years: I'm 49 years old
What is my ethnicity: Portuguese
Sexual orientation: Gentleman
Favourite music: Rock
What is my hobbies: Singing
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Tracie Hunte: So, to begin, I am going to send you a link. Over three years, she talked to dozens of men and women who were interested in these kinds of relationships. Hunte: And Larissa is from Brazil. And that the men, in some ways, broker their ticket to getting here.

And that gives that person permission to come to the United States to get married, but they have to do it within 90 days. Music shifts into long, sustained notes to build drama. Longoria: We start today with correspondent Tracie Hunte guiding me into the unknown: the world of reality TV. A dramatic but upbeat musical flourish plays, like the intro to a theme song, before moving back to the plucky, quirky music. Use the hashtag TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment theatlantic. Larissa: No, no! And I feel broken.

Sound de by David Herman. Larissa: Oh my. Hunte: So yeah. Schaeffer: And these women are just desperate to come to the United States. Rose Vega: My name is Rose, and I am 23 years old. Larissa: My first goal in America is marry. Melodramatic, heavy piano music plays for a moment.

But when I cross the border, I become Tom Cruise. But, on top of all that, Ed travels to the Philippines from San Diego—something like six, seven thousand miles. Hunte: And so you see her, like, get out of the car. Not a city I expected.

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Longoria: As Hunte giggles. I never thought I would get married. Schaeffer: So, that is, um, these sort of big social parties that different companies host so that men from the United States and Canada can travel to Latin American countries and meet women in a big social event. Like, why should someone care? Hunte: Yes, effectively one date. Schaeffer: Their weight, how tall they are—all kinds of personal information—and then their contact.

Hunte: Which is where Felicity would show up, asking questions. Schaeffer: I ended up in Colombia and Mexico, interviewing women and men at these vacation romance tours about why they were interested in dating someone. Schaeffer: Oh my God, I mean, so many insecurities! You know, men sort of think that U. Hunte: Did you peer into the dark heart of American masculinity?

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Colt: Are you going back to Brazil? Colt: Over funky music. And I hated it. Not in my American dream. Colt: Over the funky music again. Hunte: So, like, a lot of this show is cringe. Tall buildings, big lights. A musical descent pulls us into a dreamlike tapestry of synthesizers and percussion. Be part of The Experiment. And so she said yes. Larissa: My first impressions of Las Vegas? Watch the clip, Julia! This is Big Ed. Hunte: Big Ed, American white man in his 50s.

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Colt: My name is Colt. Longoria: This week, correspondent Tracie Hunte, our resident reality-TV expert, watches one of the biggest shows on television and tells the story of how love got written into U. The notes hover for a moment more before cutting out. Hunte: The company then compiles these packages filled with these photos and contact info for all these women into these digital catalogs, and American men can look through them. Longoria: Yeah. This is just so, so deeply uncomfortable to watch. A transcript of this episode is presented below:.

Longoria: After one date they decided to get married? And they met online. I should just say. Hunte: And so on this show, you see men like Big Ed. They say they lost hope that they could ever find a partner in the U.

And this is not just, like, some bizarre reality-TV show setup.

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Hunte: Okay. And third, buy a car with air conditioner. It was hard, in some ways, and I felt really creepy. The mattress that I slept in was soaking wet. Colt is a white guy in his 30s. Schaeffer chuckles lightly while Hunte laughs outright. Laughs, and Longoria s in. I have this amazing interview with a guy who said to me something that really clarified things.

Second, apply for the green card. Hunte: You watched it. Larissa: I thought that was more big, you know.

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Reality-show producers will impose fake deadlines, physical obstacles, and manufactured drama to create the juiciest spectacle. Schaeffer: Yes. I have watched some of the episodes, of course! She is also in her 30s. He lives in Las Vegas. I can feel the hot, warm. They went on vacation together—to Cancun, I think—and after five days of this vacation together, Colt asked Larissa to marry him. Whimsical, reality-TV-show-style music plays, ostensibly to play up the comedy of the circumstances.

And if they see someone they like, they could them. The show documents the complications of those emotionally charged 90 days, when two people from different countries, cultures, and sometimes races have to decide whether their relationship is real. Fact-check by William Brennan.

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Felicity Amaya Schaeffer: Marriage is one of those ways in which women have—for many, many generations and decades—used marriage to get ahead. Longoria: Okay, back me up for a second. All my relationships have ended with me getting a broken heart.

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Dating shows often push contestants to extreme measures in pursuit of love. Big Ed: And this was one of the worst nights of my life. Like, the U. Hunte: Yes! Tonal shift: The music loops over the same few notes, hovering.

Longoria: Totally. Why I find this so interesting is just, you know, to see this kind of power dynamic play out.

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Larissa: Sighs. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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So, new couple. Hunte: Insistently. Longoria: First impressions of Las Vegas, right? Longoria: I—I did not realize that.